Wednesday, November 02, 2005

In United's Defence (Because They Don't Have One of Their Own)

Far be it from me to ever express any sympathy for Man Utd. (I’d normally gloat over such a crappy performance as that of tonight), but the fact that they were beaten by cheats who were only marginally less shite than they were was ruined by one of the worst refereeing performances I’ve seen in ages. No, not in ages, just since the last time I saw Markus Merk ref a match. The very fact that he is in charge of Champions League matches itself beggars belief.

In the second half tonight, United conceded a free kick in their own half, and Sylvestre sportingly passed the ball back to a Lille player who proceeded to take the free kick, sending the ball down the line to the player Sylvestre had abandoned in order to pass the ball back. The next time the ball went dead, Sylvestre shouted his complaint to the free kick taker and was consequently booked by Merk. Around 15 minutes later, Rooney was kicked up in the air, and when he mimed the action back at the player who had kicked him, Merk booked Rooney, even though there wasn’t a single player within ten yards of him.

Lille goalscorer Acomovic managed to secure a free kick in front of the goal on the edge of the box by standing on Alan Smith’s ankle (an act that normally would elicit applause from me) and throwing himself to the ground. Only a fabulous save from Van de Sar prevented a second goal.

The more frustrated United players (and the manager) get, usually the more I enjoy a match, but it takes all of the fun out of things if the opposition’s success is not just abetted by incompetent officials but actually rendered irrelevant. Lille needn’t have turned up tonight and they still could have won the way Merk officiated. And that lets Ferguson and his gang off the hook. Which is no fun at all.

What's more, Johnny Giles and Eamon Dunphy added insult to injury by calling the United team “cheats,” who were “dishonest” because they didn't chase back. Well, there’s dishonest and there's dishonest, and happy though I shall be if this team is “finished” as Dunphy had it, even if Keane and Neville were to return, there’s very little players can do about refereeing of this calibre. And I’m not surprised at such “dishonesty” within the United camp when team morale is undermined by Cork-born mardarses who don’t know the difference between constructive criticism and adolescent petulance (see below).

I ALMOST felt sorry for them.


Martin said...

That'd be Markus Merk whose cameo as "4th official" opposite Graham Taylor in the Broadway smash "I'm a metre,I'm a metre" is one of my favourite mime performances of all time.

And he's a dentist too. I bet they mentioned that every 5 minutes last night, they usually do.

John said...


Not mentioned once. What was so remarkable was that Merk's performance wasn't commented on once. He was able to reap his destruction by stealth. Rooney was blamed for his booking, and the commentators didn't even KNOW what Sylvestre was booked for.

I've seen this with Merk before. Every match he refs becomes a circus of unpredictability. There's just no knowing when he's going to blow up or why. At least with Uriah Rennie you know he's doing it to draw attention to himself. Merk manages to avoid attention and still cause chaos.

Martin said...

But is it safe?

John said...

You would NOT believe how safe.

John said...

No, it isn't safe. It isn't safe at all.

Martin said...

You're right about Uriah Rennie. I saw him ref at Moss Lane when he was on his irresistable rise through the leagues. It wasn't his multi-coloured watchstraps so much as his need to respond to individual comments from the crowd that made me realise his ego was suited for a larger stage.
He does karate. They always mention that on TV.

J.J said...

Uriah Rennie now sacked from Premiership, but still apparently good enough for the likes of not very good.